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4G adoption to outgun 3G

Uptake of next-gen mobile standard, or long term evolution, will be quicker than its predecessor, predicts Alcatel-Lucent exec.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Global adoption of long term evolution (LTE) will take place faster than its predecessor 3G thanks to the availability of devices and demand from customers, according to an Alcatel-Lucent executive.

In an interview with ZDNet Asia, Rajeev Singh-Molares, Alcatel-Lucent's president for the Asia-Pacific region, said he is confident there will be a "much faster uptake of 4G" compared to 3G. "Initially, when operators were building 3G networks, there weren't a lot of devices that can take advantage of the capabilities of 3G," he pointed out.

In contrast, devices that can take advantage of LTE networks "are coming" or already out, he noted. Operators that are already investing in LTE networks, added Singh-Molares, are also pushing vendors to drive down the prices of 4G dongles or handsets.

Consumer appetite for tablet devices will also spur 4G growth, said Singh-Molares. "Mobile devices such as tablets will work much better on a 4G LTE network than 3G networks," he explained.

Singh-Molares reported that he is seeing investment in LTE networks in many countries around the world. In the United States, Verizon Wireless has already deployed 4G while rival operator AT&T will be switching on 4G this summer, he said.

Over in the Asia-Pacific region, countries such as Singapore, India and China are either already trialing LTE or have plans to do so, he added.

APAC operators see stiff competition
According to Singh-Molares, the Asia-Pacific region has one of the most competitive markets in the world. Countries such as India, Indonesia as Bangladesh have "extraordinarily low" ARPU (average revenue per user), which is dropping even further especially for voice connectivity, he noted.

To address this, the region's operators are looking at building more cost-efficient networks as well as generating new revenue streams on existing infrastructure, he said.

Singh-Molares added that operators welcome the growth in data traffic but are still "experimenting" on how to monetize the data boom and not lose out to over-the-top players. Some are exploring pricing plans with data caps while some have opted to provide premium service at a higher price for users who are willing to pay more, he said.

The Alcatel-Lucent executive also highlighted a study by Bell Labs and the World Economic Forum which found that it is possible to accelerate the growth of gross domestic product (GDP) by as much as 36 percent with wireless connectivity.

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